Today's scripture reading from Mark 9 and Karen's sermon have left me thinking of the power of human empathy. The Oxford dictionary defines empathy as, "The ability to understand and share the feelings of another."
The passage from Mark comes after Jesus spends six days with Peter, James and John. In the chapter before this morning's reading, Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." In the scripture reading this morning, immediately following the transfiguration of Jesus, we hear a voice say, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” This is the time when the disciples truly understand, when they can become empathetic to what Jesus, the Son of God, is sacrificing by dying in the most heinous way possible to cleanse the sins of humanity. It is only through this deep empathy that they can continue to preach about Jesus after his death and resurrection.
Is it easy for us to say, "yeah, but God doesn't talk directly to me"? Alternatively, especially as we enter the season of Lent, do we need to look around us and hear how he is speaking to us all the time?
This week kicks off Winter Wednesday Evenings with three great tracts of study. The one that spoke most to me was one that Sheila S. did a great job explaining during the service. The track she described is Native Landscape, which is focused on aboriginal life and culture. It is so easy to blame the issues facing aboriginal peoples on government policy. It is equally easy to go to sympathy or "feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune." The answer was pretty clear to me. Transfiguration (change) comes from empathy. Empathy starts with understanding.